Everything’s all tied up in the NLDS races, and the ALDS ones are just getting started. With two tight exception, every other game has been practically a blow-out.
The Red Sox blasted away the Rays tonight 12-2. And here’s the kicker: the only home runs were 2 solo homers by the Rays, while the Red Sox just pounced on the Rays’ just increasingly bad defense. It’s clear that the Rays are either really young and inexperienced or not used to working a team, and honestly, this has been their downfall since their Wild Card playoff game against the Indians. The only thing keeping the Rays in the postseason is their starting rotation. And their pitcher tonight was part of that picture, but it was the lousy defense that earned him the loss and gave the Red Sox a really big win today. The “Bearded Wonders” just keep rolling along at their pace they established earlier this season. They have that almost MAC truck drive, backed with the assumption that they will win. Passion is a very powerful factor in competitive sports. And if those beards are any indication, that passion isn’t going anywhere fast.
The Tigers and Athletics began their series tonight. The Tigers hit first, scoring its 3 runs all in the first inning. They beat up on the Athletics’ starter with their 10 hits, while the Tigers’ starter (one of the better pitchers of the AL) struck out 11 batters and allowed just 3 hits — 1 being a 2-run homer that scored the only runs the A’s earned tonight. Really, even though the score looked like a real nail-biter, the game was far from tense. The Tigers were clearly in control from the beginning and just never really let go. Certainly their offense could have been a little more “Boston-like”, but the reason the A’s are in the postseason has two factors — pretty good defense (especially in the clutch) and a rookie outfielder who can hit like a seasoned veteran. I just think the Tigers have the more rounded roster, but the A’s could be a huge hitch in their giddy-up. (Am I even using that Western colloquialism right? I’m an East Coaster.)
Over in the National League in the other tight game, the Braves eked out a victory over the Dodgers 4-3. Like I said yesterday, this is probably the closest series as far as being the most evenly matched. And I’m guessing this is going to be a pretty tight series. And I will say this: Atlanta showed off its really stunning defense quite a bit today. They packed that team with some really great fielders and proved it to their fans. The Dodgers are the flashy guys, perhaps a comparison could be made to the Braves of the early-to-mid-90s. They have what a lot of people dub “swagger” — they’re good and they know it. But consistency is a problem for the boys in blue. The Braves may have a slight advantage overall, but the Dodgers are virtually unstoppable once their offensive ball gets rolling. This is one of the more interesting races to follow right now.
And taking a page from the Cardinals’ playbook, the Pirates just jumped all over the Cardinals early and often to earn their win 7-1. The only run from the Cardinals’ came via a solo home run. The Pirates grabbed 2 homers (a 2-run and a solo) and spackled the rest of their runs from doubles, singles, and sac-flies like every other game. But it was their pitching that just absolutely stymied the Cardinals, who managed just 4 hits off the Pirates’ bullpen (and only 2 were off their starter). Clearly, the Pirates do better when led by great pitching. They are still a relatively young team, who is still working on their fluidity as a unit, but there is potential. The Cardinals do their advancing on offensive strength alone, with minimal strength from their rotation.
And in Yankees Universe, things are heating up in the Alex Rodriguez drama continually unfolding in New York. His arbitration hearings are currently underway to appeal his 211-game suspension for violating MLB’s anti-drug policy regarding PEDs. Meanwhile in other courts, his lawyers have filed one suit against MLB and specifically MLB commissioner Bud Selig for what Rodriguez’s camp deems a “witch hunt” in how they “discovered” and “verified” details of their case against him and came to their sentence terms for his suspension. And they filed another suit against the Yankees’ team doctor Dr. Ahmad and the hospital where the Yankees are treated (and Dr. Ahmad has hospital privileges) New York-Presbyterian for failing to report and treat his hip injury, later surgically repaired, and aggravating it by sending him back to play for the end of the 2012 regular season and into the postseason. While the arbitration is considered an “in-house” issue with MLB, the lawsuits were filed in a Manhattan court. Supposedly, neither lawsuit will have any bearing on the outcome of the appeal. But I’m guessing the court of public opinion (read: Twitter) will have its own say and enjoy their own formation of opinions on Rodriguez, Selig, MLB, and anyone else they see as being involved in this matter (whether they are or not is irrelevant when dealing with social media opinions).
In somewhat better, lighter news, the Yankees have made their official offer to Joe Girardi to continue as their manager. Terms and details have yet to be made public, but they did confirm a pay raise offer and extended contract. After a proper consultation with the only opinions that really matter to him (his wife and kids), he will return with his response which has yet to be determined. Either way he answers should be an interesting twist in the never-ending saga that is the 2013 season of the Yankees.